With the excitement palpable in the air, Spring Training has just one more day before its conclusion. Remarkably, it has gone extremely fast this year. Feels as if just the other day we were all hyperventilating over pitchers and catchers reporting.
While the vast majority of the audience could have cared less about today, it was Brett Marshall’s time to prove it was he who should be getting a Major League start in New York. Just by taking a gander at the 9-5 final score, one can assume things did not go over well. And for once, your assumption would be correct.
Offensive Side of the Diamond:
With no Billy Hamilton to drool over today, we can gawk at his backup for the time being, Roger Bernadina. The guy has played with an unbelievable amount of fervor and passion this spring, and he showed it again today when he laced an RBI single in the fourth and promptly swiped second base. He may not push either Ryan Ludwick or Chris Heisey for the starting left field position, but his left-handed bat is going to be valuable and difficult to dismiss over the entirety of the season. Similarly to Xavier Paul in the past, Bernadina can really smoke a fastball, no matter how hard it may be thrown.
As the fifth inning got underway, we began to see the intricacies that could begin to shape the game under the new rules. On back-to-back plays, the umpires went to the replay and seemed to get both calls incorrect. Of course, they do not have nearly the same amount of technology as they would during the regular season, but the results are not inspiring. Ultimately, the plays worked as a tradeoff and the Reds only tacked a single run on the board.
In last ditch efforts for both men to make the Opening Day roster, Jason Bourgeois and Kristopher Negron pounded out multi-hit games. Neither man seems to have much of a shot at being with the club when the calendar turns to April, but with impressive play down on the farm, they just may find their way up to Cincinnati should the injury bug rear her ugly head again.
Going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and the helmet slam of the spring, was Joey Votto. After punching out swinging in the third, Votto took out his frustrations on his head protection by spiking it like a basketball. Don’t tell Joey these games don’t count.
Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:
The bitter cold air of Long Island, New York (that’s shameless hometown promotion right there) in early April was probably so close that Brett Marshall could feel it on his lips. Even if he could, that still wouldn’t explain his twelve hits allowed and seven earned runs that trotted across the plate over his five innings of work.
As Greg Reynolds so kindly reminded us of last season, elite minor league success does not always translate to Major League domination. Brett Marshall has unquestionably faced a diluted talent pool thus far this spring, even if the names of clubs are from the highest level. There are not many men like Jose Abreu down in the minors, as the newest Cuban sensation unleashed a gargantuan three-run blow in the bottom of the fourth.
The relief efforts were not much better. Manny Parra continued his run of exceptional work out of the ‘pen, lowering his ERA under one, showing that he has truly found his niche on a Major League roster. Sam LeCure allowed a run for the third time in his last four outings as his ERA now starts with a seven. The assumed last member of the bullpen is Nick Christiani, who also gave up a run in his inning of work. The route the team chooses to take with Alfredo Simon could dictate whether or not Christiani starts the year in purple and black or white and red.
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While the words aren’t as sweet as “Opening Day,” “last day of Spring Training” can get ones blood pressure increasing. Fittingly, we’ll play two as the great Ernie Banks would want, with the contest against the Brewers being televised on the MLB Network at 3:05 PM. Getting the start against Milwaukee will be J.J. Hoover (breathe, everyone is just getting work in before the season, he hasn’t been converted), while Tony Cingrani will stay back in Goodyear and take on the Diamondbacks.
Should you not catch either game, be sure to tune in here later tomorrow night for the final wrap-ups of Spring Training as we head towards the 2014 regular season!